Planning for the Future
I have received correspondence about the newly announced planning reforms and hope this response is helpful.
Our planning system needs to work for those who use it to make sure new homes, businesses and vital infrastructure are not held back by outdated, complicated and time-consuming bureaucracy. It takes an average of five years for an application for residential development to go through the planning system before building can even begin. We need to examine this in the light of people in our communities who want homes to live in, places to work, and schools and hospitals built. We also need to examine this in the light of recent major changes our society has experienced during the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.
This is why I welcome consideration of reforms to cut arbitrary red tape while maintaining standards and protecting our Green Belt and greenfield sites. Preservation of our environment is of great importance.
Alongside local democratic agreement, it is proposed that land will be designated under the categories of growth, renewal or protection. Every area will also need to have a local plan in place for building more homes, helping local communities drive change and decide what gets built and where. Local housing plans would be developed and agreed in 30 months, rather than the seven years it often takes. A fast-track system for beautiful homes will also be created and new streets are to be lined with trees to enhance the built environment.
Land designated for growth will allow new homes, schools, shops and hospitals to be permitted as long as they meet local design and quality standards. Renewal areas will be provided with a 'permission in principle' approach subject to checks and balances with an emphasis on high quality that meets design standards. Our heritage sites and green spaces will continue to be protected and preserved for the enjoyment of local communities and future generations, with development taking place on brownfield sites.
A new rule-based planning system is proposed that will make the best use of technology to increase transparency and accessibility, and save taxpayer money being spent on outdated procedures. A new and simpler national levy will replace developer contributions, which are often the source of major delays, and allow more funds to be raised for social infrastructure to the benefit of communities. The reforms will also make the construction sector more efficient, helping small and medium sized housebuilders compete with large developers. I have also been assured that key workers, local people and first-time buyers will be front and centre in the First Homes scheme, which will provide a 30 per cent discount on the purchase of a home. The consultation on planning for the future has been launched and is now open to views from the public, businesses and local government.
It is encouraging that the new proposals will once again make our planning system work for our communities and create much needed new jobs in construction. All new homes will need to be zero carbon ready, which will deliver on our net carbon zero commitment, improve on environmental and energy standards and avoid the need for retrofitting.
However, alongside your local representatives I am looking carefully at these proposals as much as I want homes that people want to live in, places people want to work I also want to ensure that areas such as the Chilterns are protected in order to safeguard our environment for our children and posterity. I also want to ensure that our status as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and potentially the next National Park in the UK – an idea that I initiated – is not threatened by any changes to the planning laws.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Rt. Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan
Member of Parliament for Chesham and Amersham